In From The Cold Rotten Tomatoes

1965 film by Martin Ritt, Paul Dehn, Guy Trosper

The Spy Who Came In from the Cold

Theatrical release poster by Howard Terpning

Directed by Martin Ritt
Screenplay past
  • Paul Dehn
  • Guy Trosper
Based on The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

by John le Carré
Produced by Martin Ritt
  • Richard Burton
  • Claire Bloom
  • Oskar Werner
Cinematography Oswald Morris
Edited by Anthony Harvey
Music past Sol Kaplan


Salem Films Express

Distributed past Paramount Pictures

Release dates

  • 16 December 1965 (1965-12-16)
  • 13 January 1966 (1966-01-13)

Running time

112 minutes
State United kingdom
Language English
Box office $vii,600,000

The Spy Who Came In from the Common cold

is a 1965 British Common cold War spy film based on the 1963 novel of the same name past John le Carré. The motion picture stars Richard Burton, Claire Bloom, and Oskar Werner. It was directed past Martin Ritt, and the screenplay was written by Paul Dehn and Guy Trosper.[1]

The film depicts British MI6 amanuensis Alec Leamas’ mission as a faux defector who is given the task of sowing dissentious disinformation about a powerful East High german intelligence officeholder. As part of a deception, Leamas is obviously dismissed from the British hugger-mugger intelligence service and becomes an embittered alcoholic. He is presently approached by East German language agents in Britain, and he allows himself to be recruited and taken to continental Europe to sell his secrets for coin. Only when it seems that he has successfully discredited his target, withal, Leamas is revealed to be an active British intelligence agent disseminating imitation data. Much to his surprise, this revelation achieves the real and heretofore hidden objectives of the mission.

The Spy Who Came In from the Cold
was a box-function success, receiving positive reviews and several awards, including four BAFTA Awards for All-time British Film, Best Actor, Best Cinematography, and All-time Fine art Direction. For his performance, Richard Burton received the David di Donatello Laurels for Best Foreign Actor, the Gilt Laurel Award, and an Academy Accolade nomination for Best Thespian in a Leading Part. The film was named one of the acme ten films of 1966 past the National Lath of Review in the Us.[2]



The West Berlin office of MI6, nether station principal Alec Leamas, has suffered from reduced effectiveness. He is recalled to London presently after the death of ane of his operatives and is seemingly drummed out of the bureau. In reality, a carefully staged transformation of Leamas has been arranged by Control, the bureau’southward principal. Appearing to be depressed, embittered and alcoholic, Leamas takes work as an assistant at a local library. In that location he begins a relationship with co-worker Nan Perry, a young and idealistic member of the British Communist Party. Leamas spends most of his small-scale salary on alcohol, leaving him constantly depression on funds. He drunkenly assaults a shopkeeper who refuses him credit and is briefly jailed. His predicament attracts the attention of the E German Intelligence Service, which sees him equally a potential defector.

Leamas is approached by a series of operatives, each one passing him up the chain of the E German intelligence service, and he expresses a willingness to sell British secrets for coin. He eventually flies to the Netherlands to run into an agent named Peters, who decides that his information is of import enough to send him on to Due east Frg. At a German state house, Leamas is introduced to Fiedler, who becomes his master interrogator. Leamas then begins to carry out his hugger-mugger mission, which is to share data that suggests a high-ranking East German language intelligence officer named Mundt is a paid informant of the British. The evidence is coexisting, and though it seems to implicate Mundt, Leamas repeatedly refutes that conclusion, claiming that an important East German official could not take been a British agent without his knowledge. Notwithstanding, Fiedler is able to independently confirm Leamas’ information and comes to the determination that Mundt, his supervisor, has indeed been a secret asset of British intelligence for many years.

Mundt himself unexpectedly arrives at the chemical compound and has both Leamas and Fiedler arrested for plotting against him. One time Fiedler explains his findings to his superiors, the tables are turned and Mundt is arrested. A secret tribunal is convened to try Mundt for espionage, with Leamas compelled to evidence. Fiedler presents a strong case for Mundt being a paid double amanuensis. Yet, Mundt’s attorney uncovers several discrepancies in Leamas’ transformation into an informant, suggesting that Leamas is a faux defector. Leamas’ credibility collapses when Nan, who has been brought to East Germany for what she thought was a cultural substitution visit, is forced to bear witness at the tribunal and unwittingly reveals that she has been receiving payments from a British intelligence officer every bit Leamas had arranged. Faced with this testimony, Leamas reluctantly admits that he is indeed a British agent. Mundt is vindicated, and Fiedler is arrested as a complicit dupe.

Leamas initially believes he has failed in his mission and fears astringent retribution from Mundt. Withal, in the heart of the nighttime, Mundt releases Leamas and Nan from their cells and provides an escape programme for them both. Mundt explains that Leamas’ real mission has succeeded; Mundt actually
a British agent, and Fiedler had been the target of the operation all forth, as he had grown likewise suspicious of his supervisor. This comes as a shock to Leamas, and the complex web he has been drawn into and the risk he has been placed in by his own superiors become painfully clear. He explains the entire plot to still-idealistic Nan as they drive their borrowed car toward the edge. She berates him for being involved in what amounts to the murder of Fiedler, who was only doing his job. Leamas, agitated past her naiveté, erupts in an angry, self-loathing confession:

What the hell do you recollect spies are? Moral philosophers measuring everything they practise against the word of God or Karl Marx? They’re non. They’re just a bunch of seedy squalid bastards like me, little men, drunkards, queers, henpecked husbands, ceremonious servants playing “Cowboys and Indians” to brighten their rotten little lives. Do you think they sit like monks in a cell, balancing correct against incorrect? Yesterday I would accept killed Mundt because I thought him evil and an enemy. But not today. Today he is evil and my friend.

Leamas and Nan arrive at the Berlin Wall and are given instructions to climb over to West Deutschland on an emergency ladder while a searchlight is intentionally turned abroad. Leamas is at the top of the wall pulling Nan upward behind him when the searchlight suddenly shines directly on them, alarms audio, and Nan is shot dead by Mundt’s operatives, silencing the only civilian witness to the operation. Leamas freezes in shock and horror, and is urged by agents on both sides to return to the West. Instead, he begins to climb down towards Nan’s torso on the eastern side of the wall and is also shot and killed.



  • Richard Burton every bit Alec Leamas
  • Claire Bloom as Nan Perry
  • Oskar Werner as Fiedler
  • Sam Wanamaker equally Peters
  • George Voskovec as East German Defense force Attorney
  • Rupert Davies as George Smiley
  • Cyril Cusack every bit Control
  • Peter van Eyck as Hans-Dieter Mundt
  • Michael Hordern as Ashe
  • Robert Hardy as Dick Carlton
  • Bernard Lee equally Patmore
  • Beatrix Lehmann as Tribunal President
  • Esmond Knight equally Former Judge
  • Tom Stern as CIA Agent
  • Niall MacGinnis as Checkpoint Charlie Guard
  • Scott Finch as German Guide
  • Anne Blake as Miss Crail
  • George Mikell equally Checkpoint Charlie Guard
  • Richard Marner equally Vopo Captain
  • Warren Mitchell every bit Mr. Zanfrello
  • Steve Plytas as East German Guess
  • Richard Caldicot as Mr. Pitt
  • Nancy Nevinson equally Mrs. Zanfrello
  • Michael Ripper as Mr. Lofthouse



The film closely follows the plot of the original source text. I exception is that the name of the principal female grapheme in the novel, Liz Gilded, is changed to Nan Perry in the film, reputedly because the producers were worried about the potential confusion in the media with Burton’south wife, Elizabeth Taylor.

Ardmore Studios in Ireland and England’southward Shepperton Studios were used for the shooting of interior scenes.[3]



The Spy Who Came In from the Cold
took in $7,600,000 at the box role.[iv]

Bosley Crowther of
The New York Times
wrote, “After all the spy and mystery movies of a romantic and implausible nature that we have seen, it is bang-up to see ane as realistic, and believable likewise, as
The Spy Who Came In from the Cold.”[5]
chosen the film “an fantabulous contemporary espionage drama of the Cold War which achieves solid bear upon via emphasis on homo values, total absence of mechanical spy gimmickry, and perfectly controlled underplaying.”[6]
Philip K. Scheuer of the
Los Angeles Times
wrote: “It is not an easy, certainly not a pleasant, film to sit down through; too impersonal, too objective, to move us to weep, and then that its catastrophe tin can only leave united states tremendously depressed.”[7]
Richard 50. Coe of
The Washington Mail service
declared: “Not having shared the plainly widespread admiration for
The Spy Who Came In from the Cold
in its original class as a novel, I nonetheless find information technology a wholly arresting picture.”[8]
Brendan Gill of
The New Yorker
chosen it “in every respect an admirable translation [to] the screen of the fantastically pop thriller by Jean [sic] le Carré.”[nine]
The Monthly Film Message
wrote, “Concentration is demanded; and earned by the tension and accuracy of the dialogue and the loftier level of functioning … [the bandage] all requite performances of a kind which instantly appoint attending, fifty-fifty if the characters scarcely develop across the point at which we first run into them.”[10]

The moving-picture show holds a score of 86% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 14 reviews, with an average grade of 7.vii out of 10.[xi]

Awards and nominations


Award Category Nominee Result
Academy Awards, 1966 Best Actor Richard Burton Nominated
All-time Fine art Management – Black-and-White Hal Pereira, Tambi Larsen, Ted Marshall, Josie MacAvin Nominated
BAFTA Awards, 1966 All-time British Actor Richard Burton Won
Best British Art Direction Tambi Larsen Won
Best British Cinematography Oswald Morris Won
Best British Film Martin Ritt Won
Best Moving-picture show from any Source Martin Ritt Nominated
Best Foreign Actor Oskar Werner Nominated
British Society of Cinematographers, 1966 Best Cinematography Laurels Oswald Morris Won
David di Donatello Awards, 1966 Best Foreign Actor Richard Burton Won
Edgar Allan Poe Awards, 1966 Best Movement Motion-picture show Paul Dehn, Guy Trosper Won
Gilded Globe Awards, 1966 All-time Supporting Actor Oskar Werner Won
Laurel Awards, 1966 Dramatic Performance, Male Richard Burton Won
National Board of Review, 1966 Top Ten Film Won
Writers Society of America Awards, 1966 Best Written American Drama Paul Dehn, Guy Trosper Nominated

Home media


The Spy Who Came In from the Cold
was released by The Benchmark Collection equally a Region 1 DVD on 25 November 2008 and on Blu-ray on 10 September 2013. Extras for this version include: digitally restored picture and sound; an interview with John le Carré; scene-specific commentary by manager of photography Oswald Morris; a BBC documentary titled
The Secret Centre: John le Carré
(2000); an interview with Richard Burton from a 1967 episode of the BBC serial
Acting in the ’60s; a 1985 sound interview with managing director Martin Ritt; a gallery of fix designs; the film’s theatrical trailer; and a booklet featuring an essay by movie critic Michael Sragow.[12]



  1. ^

    Erickson, Hal (2007). “The Spy Who Came In from the Cold (1965)”. Movies & TV Dept.
    The New York Times. Archived from the original on 23 November 2007. Retrieved
    22 March

  2. ^

    “Awards for The Spy Who Came In from the Cold”.
    Net Moving-picture show Database
    . Retrieved
    22 March

  3. ^

    “Review: ‘The Spy Who Came In from the Common cold’“.
    Multifariousness. 31 December 1965. Retrieved
    25 October

  4. ^

    “The Spy Who Came In from the Cold, Box Office Information”. The Numbers. Retrieved
    22 January

  5. ^

    Crowther, Bosley (24 Dec 1965). “Screen: Richard Burton Portrays ‘The Spy Who Came In from the Cold’“.
    The New York Times: 24.

  6. ^

    “The Spy Who Came In from the Common cold”.
    Variety: 15. 15 December 1965.

  7. ^

    Scheuer, Philip K. (December 21, 1965). “‘Spy Who Came In From Cold’ Chills With Frigid Outlook”.
    Los Angeles Times. Part 4, p. eighteen.

  8. ^

    Coe, Richard L. (24 Dec 1965). “Cold Spy Warm on Film”.
    The Washington Post. p. A18.

  9. ^

    Gill, Brendan (one January 1966). “The Current Cinema”.
    The New York Times: 46.

  10. ^

    “The Spy Who Came In from the Cold”.
    The Monthly Film Bulletin.
    (385): twenty. February 1966.

  11. ^

    “The Spy Who Came In from the Cold”.
    Rotten Tomatoes
    . Retrieved
    18 Nov

  12. ^

    The Criterion Collection

External links


  • The Spy Who Came In from the Cold
    at IMDb
  • The Spy Who Came In from the Common cold
    at the TCM Motion picture Database
  • The Spy Who Came In from the Cold
    at AllMovie
  • The Spy Who Came In from the Cold
    at the American Flick Plant Catalog
  • The Movie Scene review
  • The Spy Who Came In from the Cold: True Ritt
    an essay past Michael Sragow at the Criterion Drove